Business As Usual!: Vocab and Phrases for Business in Japanese :In today’s lesson, we’re going to put you in the shoes of a 新入社員 (shinnyuushain, new employee). Let’s learn some new useful vocab and phrases by reading a humorous story about working at a 日本の会社 (nihon no kaisha, Japanese company). 

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Business As Usual!: Vocab and Phrases for Business in Japanese

新入社員shinnyuushainnew employee
良い印象を与えるii inshou wo ataerumake a good impression
15分早いjuugo-fun hayaififteen minutes early
挨拶 aisatsugreeting
会議室kaigishitsumeeting room
会議が長引く kaigi ga nagabikuthe meeting will be extended
上司  joushiboss
部長buchoudepartment manager
先輩senpaisenior coworker
先輩を見習う senpai wo minaraufollow in the footsteps of your senpai
先輩を教わるsenpai wo osowarulearn from your senpai
助言を求める  jogen wo motomeruask for advice
意見を述べる  iken wo noberuexpress (someone’s) opinion
意見をまとめる iken wo matomerusummarize (someone’s) opinion
まだ仕事には慣れましたか?Mada shigoto ni wa naremashita ka?Have you gotten used to the job yet?
(私は)頑張っています(Watashi wa) ganbatte imasuI’m hanging in there
昇進する  shoushin suruget a promotion
本社に転勤になる honsha ni tenkin ni naruget transfered to the head office
残業  zangyouovertime work
出張shucchoubusiness trip
転職する  tenshoku surufind another job
頑張ってください!Ganbatte kudasai!Good luck!
電話に出るdenwa ni deruanswer the phone
電話を転送する  denwa wo tensou surutransfer a call
電話を取り次ぐDenwa wo toritsugu take a message (phone)
電話を保留するdenwa wo horyuu suruput (someone) on hold
首になる kubi ni naruget fired
仕事のスケジュール  shigoto no sukejuuruwork schedule
退職  taishokuretirement

会議 (Kaigi)

English: Meetings

It’s morning. You wake up, take a shower, brush your teeth, and you rush to get the 7:30am train so that you’re not late for the meeting your 部長 (buchou, department manager) is holding. You’re still new, so you want to be at least 15分早い (juugo-fun hayai, fifteen minutes early) in order to 良い印象を与える (ii inshou wo ataeru, make a good impression).

You arrive at the meeting and sit next to your 先輩 (senpai, senior coworker). She greets you and then yawns, predicting that 会議が長引く (kaigi ga nagabiku, the meeting will be extended). You want to get along well with her, and you know that it’s customary in Japan to 先輩を見習う (senpai wo minarau, follow in the footsteps of your senpai) as well as 先輩に教わる (senpai ni osowaru, learn from your senpai). Therefore, you 助言を求める (jogen wo motomeru, ask for her advice), and she tells you to just keep it short and simple.

The buchou enters and gives his morning 挨拶 (aisatsu, greeting). A few of your 同僚 (douryou, coworkers) stand up to 意見を述べる (iken wo noberu, express their opinions) on the Toshiba account. To your surprise, after a few have spoken, the buchou asks you to express your opinion.

You’re still not confident enough to talk as freely as your other douryou, so you keep it short and simple like your senpai said. You 意見をまとめる (iken wo matomeru, summarize your opinion) as best as you can by saying, “I think everything is working out just great!”

The 会議室 (kaigishitsu, meeting room) erupts in laughter.

先輩と遊ぶ (Senpai to asobu)

English: Hanging with the senpai

After the meeting, you and your senpai go back to your desks. There, she chats with you for a while. 

She asks you,「もう仕事には慣れましたか?」(“Mou shigoto ni wa naremashita ka?”, “Have you gotten used to the job yet?”). 

You say that it’s difficult to adjust, but you’re 頑張っています(ganbatte imasu, hanging in there). 

Your senpai says that she’s been working at the company for ten years now. Her goal is to eventually 昇進する (shoushin suru, get a promotion). Ideally, she would like to 本社に転勤になる (honsha ni tenkin ni naru, get transfered to the head office). With all of the 残業 (zangyou, overtime work) and 出張 (shucchou, business trips) she goes on, she believes she really deserves it. 

After saying this, she suddenly slams the palm of her hand down on the desk. “If I don’t get that promotion, I swear to Moses I’ll 転職する (tenshoku suru, find another job)!”

She glares up at you, eyes wide, red in the face.

You let out an audible gulp and respond in order to break the uncomfortable silence.「頑張ってください!」(“Ganbatte kudasai!”, “Good luck!”)

電話に出る (Denwa ni deru )

English: Answering the phone

The phone rings, and, seeing as no one else is around, you answer it.

The caller wants to speak to the buchou, but you’ve forgotten what buttons to push in order to 電話を転送する (denwa wo tensou suru, transfer a call).

You say, 「電話を取り次いでもよろしいですか?」(“Denwa wo toritsuide mo yoroshii desu ka?”, “May I take a message?”)

The caller yells at you, saying that they just spoke with the buchou a few seconds ago when the line got disconnected. 

Right, you think. You cover the receiver and stare at all those buttons again. You’re going to need to call for backup.

「ちょっとだけ電話を保留してよろしいですか?」(Chotto dake denwa wo horyuu shite yoroshii desu ka?”, “Can I put you on hold for just a minute?”), you say. The caller is still screaming into the phone as you push the “hold” button.

Just then, your senpai returns.


You tell her about your problem, and she laughs. She then picks up the phone, presses a few buttons, and hangs up.

“Ah, so that’s how it’s done,” you think. Surely you wouldn’t 首になる (kubi ni naru, get fired) for something like that, would you?

Nah, you probably wouldn’t.

You sit back in your desk chair and observe your 仕事のスケジュール (shigoto no sukejuuru, work schedule).

“Only 14,600 days to go until 退職 (taishoku, retirement),” you think.

Now that you’ve got a whole slew of useful vocab and phrases under your belt, it’s time to get out there and practice! Do you know anyone that uses Japanese at work? Ask them about things like how long their meetings are, what kind of promotions they can get, what their 上司 (joushi, boss) is like, etc. You’ll learn a lot about Japanese companies by doing so. Also, as an added bonus, you’ll surprise them with how much business Japanese you know!

Remember, the only surefire way to master a language is to practice, practice, practice!

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